UPDATE: Weather Channel Goes Dark On DirecTV

UPDATE: Shortly after midnight ET on Tuesday, DirecTV customers no longer had access to The Weather Channel.

Instead of The Weather Channel, DirecTV subscribers will now find a channel called WeatherNation in the slot previously occupied by Weather Channel.

Statements from both sides don’t bode well for the return of Weather Channel to DirecTV.

“Consumers understand there are now a variety of other ways to get weather coverage, free of reality show clutter, and that The Weather Channel does not have an exclusive on weather coverage – the weather belongs to everyone,” writes DirecTV. “Most consumers don’t want to watch a weather information channel with a forecast of a 40 percent chance of reality TV. So with that in mind, we are in the process of discussing an agreement to return the network to our line-up at the right value for our customers.”

Comcast-owned Weather Channel dubs the removal of the station as “reckless” and “unprecedented” and maintains that WeatherNation is a sad substitute for the coverage it provides.

“At a time when DIRECTV has increased customer rates by 4 percent, they are trading safety for increased profits and replacing the experience and expertise of The Weather Channel with a cheap startup that does weather forecasting on a three-hour taped loop, has no field coverage, no weather experts… and no experience in severe weather emergencies,” said David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company in a statement. “This is a dangerous gamble over one penny a month that puts DIRECTV customers at risk.

—- Original Post —-

DirecTV and The Weather Channel are fighting a carriage contract dispute that could see the network disappearing from subscribers’ homes at midnight tonight.

The heart of the dispute is the ever-popular “one side wants more money the other is willing to pay” argument.

TV works under a model where cable and satellite providers pay a carriage fee to the networks they carry. Basically, the more popular a channel is, the higher a fee it commands.

Currently, The Weather Channel gets about 13 cents per subscriber per month from DirecTV. The Comcast-owned network says it is looking for an increase of about one cent per subscriber, but that DirecTV wanted to cut its fee “precipitously.”

DirecTV chief content officer Dan York told Time that the network’s desired rate increase was “substantially” higher.

Whatever the numbers, DirecTV is currently unwilling to pay The Weather Channel’s desired higher fee. If the two parties do not come to a contract agreement by the deadline — 12:01 a.m. on January 14 — then DirecTV stops airing Weather Channel content.

As is to be expected in these showdowns, Weather Channel has launched a massive social media campaign strongly urging all of their viewers to contact DirecTV and insist the channel not be dropped. The network is also insisting that their fight is for the greater good, and in the interest of the public. Network CEO David Kenney said in a statement that he didn’t want DirecTV’s subscribers to “miss the accurate and life-saving information we have been providing for more than 30 years.”

And just how “accurate and life-saving” does Weather Channel think its programming is? The network claims it provides an essential public service. So essential that they’re encouraging consumers not only to call and complain to DirecTV, but also to contact their members of Congress.

Meanwhile, DirecTV seems prepared to, ah, weather the storm left by Weather Channel’s potential absence: they added WeatherNation to their lineup on December 16, just one channel over from The Weather Channel. DirecTV’s York also told Time that his company is aware that “Consumers are increasingly getting their weather information from other sources,” including mobile apps, websites, and local broadcast networks. He added, “We seriously doubt The Weather Channel are the only ones who can report on the weather.”

This isn’t the first carriage dispute in recent months to leave customers high and dry. Last summer, Time Warner and CBS had it out in a fight that left 3 million subscribers without access to the network for most of a month and in September, Dish and Disney’s networks narrowly avoided a similar situation with a last-minute deal.

Of course, The Weather Channel can still be of service to DirecTV subscribers who lose access to the network on their televisions: they can still tell how completely screwed they are in a storm if Jim Cantore shows up on their street in a slicker.

Weather Channel launches campaign against DirecTV [Los Angeles Times] Millions of Households May Lose The Weather Channel Tonight [Time]

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